Back Injury Cases

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Back Injuries from Car Accidents

Auto accidents continue to be a major public health challenge in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 3 million people nationwide are non-fatally injured in car accidents annually. Due to the intense motion that occurs in most accidents, one of the most injured areas is the back.

Types of Back Injuries Caused by Car Accidents

The back encompasses much of the body and is made up of ligaments, muscles, tissues, tendons, and bones that are sensitive to excessive force exerted on the body during an accident. Many factors contribute to the type and severity of back injuries a vehicle passenger may sustain during a car accident, such as:

  • Vehicle speed
  • The place where the passenger is sitting in the car.
  • Whether or not he is wearing a seat belt
  • The point of impact on the vehicle (front, side, or rear)
  • Whether or not the passenger anticipated the collision and had time to prepare for the impact

Back injuries vary in severity and may not be immediately obvious after an accident. If you have been involved in an accident, it is important to have a medical examination as soon as possible. A medical professional can perform tests such as an X-ray, MRI, CT scan, or myelogram to determine if you have suffered a back injury. Although many different types of injuries can occur, common back injuries that result from car accidents include:

Herniated disc

The vertebrae of the spinal column are cushioned by discs that consist of a tough outer layer that encapsulates a soft interior. A herniated disc occurs when a force is applied to the back, such as the force of a car accident; the sudden, rough movement can cause the outer layer of the disc to rupture, allowing the soft interior to leak into the spinal canal. The pain occurs when the contents of the disc press against the nerves in the spinal canal.

The symptoms of a herniated disc can take time to become apparent. Common symptoms include back pain that radiates to other areas of the body such as down the leg, burning sensation, numbness, and muscle weakness. While most herniated discs can heal with conservative treatment, severe cases may require surgery to repair.

Vertebral Column Fracture

Spinal fractures occur when one or more vertebrae in the spinal column are broken, usually because of a high-velocity impact such as a car accident. Minor fractures may heal with rest, but serious injuries may require surgery. Those who suffer from a spinal fracture should seek medical treatment as soon as possible as untreated fractures can lead to permanent spinal cord injury, nerve damage, and even paralysis.

Types of spinal fractures include:

  1. Compression fracture: Occurs when the bones of the spine become weak and crumble, usually because of bone loss, tumors, or other abnormalities.
  2. Burst Fracture: Fracture that occurs when major trauma compresses the vertebrae, causing the vertebral body of the bone to break in multiple directions.
  3. Fracture of “chance”: Horizontal fracture caused by the separation of the vertebrae from a violent force, usually a car accident.

Symptoms of spinal fractures include neck or back pain, tingling, numbness, muscle spasms, muscle weakness, and loss of bladder or bowel control.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Auto accidents account for nearly half of all new spinal cord injuries each year in the US Any damage to the spinal cord or the nerve in the spinal canal is considered a spinal cord injury. These injuries are very serious, as they often cause permanent damage to strength, sensation, and other bodily functions below the point of injury. These injuries can have drastic effects on your physical, mental, and social health.

When a spinal cord injury occurs, it will usually affect the area of the body below the injury site. If the injury occurs high in the spine (the cervical spine), paralysis or even death is possible. Symptoms of spinal cord injury include, but are not limited to, loss or weakening of sensation, shortness of breath, muscle weakness or loss of movement, muscle spasms, numbness, and digestive problems.

Sprains / Back Strains

In the back, muscles connect muscle to bone, while ligaments serve to connect bones to joints or bones to each other. A back strain is a twist, tear, or pull to a muscle or tendon in the back while a sprain is a ligament injury.

Excessive stress on the back muscle can lead to strain. Sprains are often the result of falls, sudden twists, or blows to the body that force joints out of their normal positions, stretching the ligaments beyond their normal range of motion. The sudden force of a car accident can cause these injuries. Symptoms include pain that worsens with movement, muscle cramps or spasms, and decreased range of motion.


Spondylolysis is a stress fracture or tear in a small bone in the vertebrae called the pars interarticularis. The pars interarticularis connects the facet joint to the main part of the vertebra. Spondylolysis is the term used to describe the condition that occurs when a vertebra slips out of place due to weakening or tearing of the pars interarticularis. This condition usually occurs because of trauma.

Most people with spondylolysis do not experience any symptoms and can live unknowingly with the condition for years. In other cases, patients experience persistent lower back pain that worsens with movement. Other symptoms include tightness and muscle spasms in the hamstrings.

Spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the space in the spine that is usually caused by wear and tear of the spine over time. Most people with spinal stenosis can be asymptomatic, but numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and back pain are possible. Car accidents do not directly cause spinal stenosis in victims, but the impact of the accident can cause them to start feeling symptoms they didn’t feel before.

For example, a collision can cause a person with an asymptomatic case of spinal stenosis to become symptomatic, causing pain, numbness, and other symptoms that would not otherwise have been present. In such cases, accident victims may want to contact an attorney to seek compensation for this injury.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

It is crucial that you contact a personal injury attorney who is well-versed in the medical information involved in your case. A qualified attorney will be able to understand the details of your accident and help you receive the compensation you deserve. The attorneys at PMR Law have extensive experience working with clients who have suffered serious back injuries in car accidents. They understand the difficulties that are involved with enduring a serious injury and are dedicated to helping accident victims seek justice for their losses.

Contact our personal injury lawyers at 832-324-2616. Get in touch with us immediately so we can evaluate your case for free. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also fill out a form by clicking here. Se habla Español.

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